After being drowned for weeks in an ocean of project with a really tight deadline that actually made me – as an insomniac – missed sleep, I can finally write this long overdue interview I did a couple of weeks ago with the boys of Youth Club.
I wrote about their latest single “Sorry” not too long ago, and then found out that they were going to do a Sofar Sounds in London – figured that would be the right time to ask if Gerrard, Danny and Rees (Joe was absent, unfortunately) would like to sit down and have a quick chat with little ol’ me. They said yes! So we did, sit down, literally, in the cold London evening (because the Sofar London team was busy prepping the room for the intimate gig that is about an hour away from starting, not because we were a bunch of masochists), talking about the band, their latest single to the craziest thing a fan has ever done for them.
Danny took his time to post a quick update on their social media account before we started the interview because, apparently, unlike most musicians/bands, these guys actually take care of their own social accounts meaning they’re actually the ones replying to your messages and/or comments. Pretty sweet, I think. But anyways, let’s start!
My first question was of course about how they all got together.
“Rees and I were in various projects for years, and years, and years”, says Gerrard. “Well, maybe not that long, but the last thing we did ended, and we found young Joe. We started writing some songs, and at that time Danny was on tour with another act. When he came back, we started finishing the songs …”.
“But when we started the band”, Danny jumped in, “It wasn’t really with any intentions, it was just four mates, writing some songs together. But then after about 6 months, when we got quite a lot of materials done, we realised – listening back – this should be a project. This should be a band.”
With that, comes Youth Club, bringing their “Tropical Pop” sounds into the world. Funnily enough, they did not choose the genre name themselves. “To be honest, that was something someone wrote in a review about our first EP”, Joe explained. “People started using it and we started adopting it a little bit because a lot of things we use in our branding uses a lot of ‘tropical influence’ – we definitely draw a lot of influence from the summer and all things summery. So if people can feel that in our music without us having to explain it, we feel like that’s a positive thing.”
Rees added that, “We write a lot of summery music when the weather is really grim, because the idea is, even when it’s really cold in London, you can still have a little bit of Youth Club to warm you up!”
It has certainly been a warm year for them; all the touring with Young Kato on their side. But why Young Kato? Danny said, “We met them a couple of years ago at a festival called 110Above Festival, it was quite a small, humble, and independently run festival. The guy behind it, gathered a lot of bands which we got along with and we also felt like we’re on the same kind of path. Young Kato was one of the bands we met and we saw them again the next year, in the same festival and I feel like we’ve been keeping an eye on each other’s progress throughout that year, following each other’s music, we had a little catch up and thought: we should go on tour together.” That simple. “And even though our music is different, both of our audiences can relate to each other and we can definitely share a fanbase”, he added.
The touring is to promote “Sorry”, their latest single, released on the 5th of October this year. The song process itself was somewhat unplanned. The song started in Danny’s bedroom, on a one boring night, when he and Joe started playing around with the keyboards and within a few days the song kind of developed, unintentionally. “It sounded a bit different from what we’ve done before and we like that. Sounds like we’ve matured a little bit on that particular track”, says Danny. The rest of the song were written by them separately. “So we sent it the others. We weren’t even in the same room”, he continued. “Gerrard was out with his friends, he got some ideas and wrote it down on his phone then sent it back to us. By this point the song was starting to form and then it got sent to Rees in his recording studio, he started developing the production to a higher level, then we eventually we got in a room together to finish it.”
The video for “Sorry” was released on the 11th of October. If you haven’t seen it yet, here you go:
To be honest, I had a few – if not more – questions while watching the video.
“What is the story behind this? Why are all of these girls look like they’re angry at the band? Is the song about an abusive relationship? Can you actually box in high heels?”
We turn to Danny for the answers (except for the ‘boxing in heels’ one).
“Well, no it’s not (about an abusive relationship) – it was suppose to be more of a tongue-in-cheek, because lyrically the message in that song is that you can say sorry as much as you want, but sometimes it doesn’t really mean that much. And in the video we just wanted to have that without wanting to seem too serious. I’m hoping that came across; maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. The idea was more like the girls getting their revenge in a playful, fun way, with the boxing gloves.”
Speaking of ‘saying sorry’, have you done anything in past that ended up with the hardest apology you’re ever made? They struggled a
bit lot with this question, but Rees tried to set the bar with his answer, “When I used to have a real job and you’re late and you don’t like your boss and you have to apologise anyway”, to which Danny said, “That’s an easy sorry.” Well, not if you hate your boss that much, though. “Yeah, it’s like, I don’t have to apologise for this”, Rees continued. “So I left, and open up a (music) studio.” [laughs]
Assuming the bar wasn’t set too high, we – and by “we” I mean Gerrard and Danny – spent the next few minutes trying to find answers. Which they failed to do. Although there was a brief mention about Gerrard crashing Rees’ car. The details to this story shall remain a mystery.
This year’s Boardmasters Festival was, apparently, their most memorable gig because, “It’s a festival we’ve always wanted to play”, says Danny. “We think it’s very cool setting for us to play, it was by the beach and everything. But actually, a couple of weeks ago, we played in our hometown, Southend-on-Sea, and that’s the first time we played there after a while and we were pretty gobsmacked by the reaction from the audience at that particular gig. We walked away from that gig feeling, “Wow. That was amazing!” It felt like we were playing at Glastonbury.” It was also memorable for Gerrard because he did his first crowd-surfing in that gig.
Photo Courtesy of Sam Allard
As I mentioned earlier, these guys manage their social media themselves. I know a few other bands that do this and most of them enjoy it because it makes them feel closer to their fans. Speaking of fans, what’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done for you, boys? “Danny got picked up by a fan at the M4 (motorway) at 3 AM because he couldn’t get home from somewhere”, Gerrard’s answer pretty much going to make Danny win this question. “[laughs] Yeah, I was on tour, with a different band actually, but it was within this time. There’s a Youth Club fan, who is quite active on social media. I got stranded, literally, coming back from a show in Manchester with all my band equipments, I didn’t know what to do, no one was able to pick me up so I tweeted, “Long shot, but if anyone has not got work tomorrow and fancies helping me out, I’m stuck.” And then my phone dinged almost instantly with a message from this very kind woman, and yeah – she came and picked me up halfway between London and Manchester.
Turns out, she did have work, she just cancelled it.” And apparently, Rees also got a lift from the same person after that. Now that is what I call a devoted fan. And these devoted fans are the ones that are willing to go almost anywhere, probably, to see their favourite bands. Whether it’s in a big venue or a small one. London, unfortunately, has shut down over 40% of small music venues. Which is, obviously, a sad reality. “People need to be more proactive about it”, says Danny when asked what we can do to stop it. “Growing up, I’m always thinking what gigs I’d want to go to, really excited about that and it was quite a social part of loving music; you travel across the country to see your band play. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen anymore, but maybe people are taking it for granted a little bit.”
And from Rees’ side, “I think a lot of the bigger corporations bought up a lot of the bigger venues, they’re putting on the bigger bands and that’s really attractive, they can afford to price the tickets a bit more and make more money. Leaving the local scenes a bit — people don’t go there anymore, because they’re going to be like, “Oh, I’m going to the city to catch this band at this (big) venue.” And all these big venues are sponsored, they’re like football stadiums and that is where people are going to watch music, not local venues anymore.But I think with all the campaigns going on right now, to save these small venues, it will change. It won’t always be just the about the big venues.”
“A friend of mine once said, and I think it’s true”, says Danny, “”People will spend 6 quid on a pack of cigarettes but they’ll moan about spending 6 quid to see a band play.” If people start to think of it in a simple way such as that, you’ll be able to see what the problem is. You don’t have to have some crazy plan to save the music industry, the best way to do it is just to go out and see the band you like – buy their single, merchandises. Even when it seems like they’re doing okay, most of us are struggling.”
As this interview coming to an end, I found out that Youth Club would love to work with names such as Phoenix, Metronomy, Tame Impala, Menahan Street Band and, from the dance world, Shift K3Y and Raleigh Ritchie. And, specifically for Gerrard: Bruno Mars!
I then got the chance to watch them perform live, after Kllo and Wayne Woodward. They prepared 4 songs: DTLA, People, a cover of Usher’s OMG (and probably, hands down, one of the best covers of that song that I’ve heard so far), and Sorry.
But they were so good, an encore happened. If you haven’t seen these guys live yet, track them down via every social media available – all under ‘weareyouthclub’ – and find out when their next gig is going to be because, trust me, this band sounds even better live. You can thank me later.